Trinidad and Tobago, still without injured captain and talisman Kenwyne Jones, will need to settle their nerves and recover from a shock loss last week to Bermuda in CONCACAF qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. On the other side of the joy-anguish spectrum, Panama can seal their place in the next round, while Haiti, Antigua and Barbuda, Guatemala, El Salvador and Canada all hope to keep up their fine form. FIFA.com previews all the action coming this Tuesday.
The big game
Julio Dely Valdes’ Panamanians can secure their passage to the next stage of qualifying with a win over Nicaragua on Tuesday. The Canaleros, who reached the semi-finals of this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, are flying high at the top of Group C, which consists of only three teams after the Bahamas withdrew from the competition, and a win over their lesser Central America rivals will assure them of a first-place finish. Standouts Blas Perez and Luis Tejada both scored on Friday in a simple 5-0 rout of Dominica and they will be hoping for similar form in Panama City against the Nicaraguans, their only realistic challengers for the all-important top spot with just one round to go.
The best of the rest
El Salvador are sitting pretty at the pinnacle of Group A, their laboured 2-1 win over the Dominican Republic on Friday maintaining their 100 per cent record. They should have little trouble on Tuesday with the Cayman Islands, who are bottom of the table with no points. The Salvadorans’ closest chasers, Suriname, are two points back on seven and will be hoping to take more off the Dominicans (1) at home.
Group B was thrown into disarray on Friday when minnows Bermuda shocked favourites Trinidad and Tobago 2-1. Otto Pfister’s Soca Warriors will be looking to get back on the pace when they meet Barbados – who have yet to pick up a point – in Port of Spain. New section leaders Guyana, however, will have a tough test up against the resurgent Bermudans, who are playing at home again and gaining momentum.
Group D is currently being dominated by Canada, whose 7-0 win in St. Lucia last week leaves them on a perfect nine points from their three games. They now entertain Puerto Rico, on two points, in Toronto. Second place St. Kitts and Nevis will look to keep up the pressure on the Canucks with a home meeting against basement-dwellers St. Lucia, who have conceded 15 goals and picked up no points so far.
Guatemala are flying high at the top of Group E with nine points and they will expect more of the same when they entertain fellow Central American side Belize, who stumbled last week with a 4-1 loss to Grenada in a section where the bottom three sides are all tangled on three points.
Group F is looking increasingly like a two-horse race, with Haiti and Antigua and Barbuda sharing top spot on nine points, while Curacao and the US Virgin Islands have yet to get off the mark. The free-scoring Haitians meet Curacao while the Antiguans look to keep up the form against USVI.
Player to watch
Jean Eudes Maurice (Haiti)
On loan at second-tier Lens from French Ligue 1 giants PSG, the powerful and pacey striker was one of two hat-trick scorers on the last matchday of qualifying (the other being Canada’s Simeon Jackson), grabbing a trio against the US Virgin Islands. Despite a lack of regular first-team action at club level, the 25-year-old hit-man is looking to make a mark on the international stage. His form so far has helped Haiti to the top of their and group and earned them bragging rights as the region’s top-scoring team so far on the road to Brazil 2014 with 17 goals.
What they said
“You can’t take any of these teams lightly. We need to build our momentum and come together as a fighting unit and these games are a great way to go about it. If we should move on, these games will be crucial to the kind of challenge we mount,” Captain Dwayne De Rosario, who needs one more goal in Canada’s 100-per cent campaign to equal the all-time goalscoring record for his country.
CONCACAF second round, matchday four
Tuesday 11 October 2011
Trinidad and Tobago-Barbados
Antigua and Barbuda-US Virgin Islands
El Salvador-Cayman Islands
St. Kitts and Nevis-St. Lucia
Grenada-St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Have your say
Can Caribbean giants Trinidad and Tobago – who reached the FIFA World Cup finals in 2006 – rebound from their surprise loss to Bermuda and get their campaign back on track?